Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

clock

I heard an African man say, “God gave Americans watches, but He gave Africans time.” So let me make a confession right here at the beginning. I am not the most patient man in the world. (Some who know me well just thought, “Really?”) And please don’t put my patience on the top of your prayer list. James speaks of God teaching us patience through trials and testing.

But I have been spoiled with the post modern ideas of speed and having it right now. When someone recently offered to buy me a new computer, I chose faster speed with the most update processor over a touch screen. So when it comes to ministry I struggle with the same matters of time. I want my calendar organized and filled today. I want my finances in order, today. I want what I want when I want it.

But don’t judge me. God isn’t finished and He often teaches me “Wait on the Lord.” In fact, like many people I know, I pray, and then when God doesn’t act in my schedule I battle the temptation to just do something. And usually the biggest problems in my life occur when I get ahead of God.

Now personally, I don’t think the instructions to “Wait” in the Bible mean do nothing. Usually they come in the form of “Wait before the Lord.” I see in those words a call to prayer. I believe God often asks us to wait before Him so that we will seek Him, and His word promises we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts.

I am glad that God is patient. In fact, more than that He is long-suffering. He has certainly been patient to wait on me.If God were impatient with me, as slow as I am to get it most of the time, I would be in big trouble. There is an urgency, however. There are people dying all over the world and entering into a Christ-less eternity. Somewhere around 2.8 billion of the people on our planet have limited and sometimes no access to the Gospel message. We must be swift to obey the commands of our Lord to “Go into the world and proclaim His kingdom.” We must wait in prayer before the Father praying to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest. We need to be willing to stay but planning to go. And not just some of us. He has commissioned every believer.

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Jesus asked, “Who do men say that I am?” When Peter answered, “You are the Christ,” Jesus said, ‘On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” No doubt by now you have recognized for the battle to be at the “gates of hell”, the church must be on the attack. It is functioning from an offensive position, not a defensive one.

We have seen in the last couple of days that there are two kingdoms in conflict in our world. Satan is a usurper and has laid claim to that which truly belongs to God. So Jesus came into the world to reconcile lost mankind to the Father. In commissioning the church to carry on His work, Jesus for all practical purposes told the church to go to war and reclaim God’s possessions.

There is an interesting passage in Matthew 12. Some of Jesus’ opponents have accused him of casting out demons in the name of Satan. That is where Jesus then said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Abraham Lincoln didn’t originate that, Jesus did.” It is in that context that Jesus makes the very interesting statement of v. 29, “How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man> The he can rob his house.”

When we as the church engage in the mission Christ has given us, Jesus said we are invading the enemy’s house. We must “tie up the” strongman. How do we do that? We do that in prayer. This is where our war happens, in the prayer closet.

Think about what happens when you pray. I have asked that question of groups and I always hear the same answers: My mind wanders, distractions begin to occur, I fall asleep. No wonder Jesus cautioned us to be vigilant in prayer. It is work. It is a war. We cannot invade the enemy’s own house without binding him in prayer. Think about that the next time you pray.

We probably all remember at least bits and pieces of the story of Aladdin and his lamp. He could rub the lamp and a genie would pop out and grant all of his wishes. I grew up with the TV show “I dream of Genie”. I watched it because the Geni was incredibly beautiful and I was coming into my teens. But how many people act as though their faith is in a “jesus” in a bottle.

Prayer for many is the recitation of a “wish list” of things to a god who is their personal servant. Prayer meetings at church become organ recitals, where we pray for aunt suzie’s gall bladder, and uncle bob’s ingrown toe nail. I don’t mean to sound cynical or negative, but the Jesus presented in the New Testament is the Lord and King of all creation. He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we might ever dream or even think to ask.

In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not to heap up phrases thinking that we might be heard by God for our massive amount of words and repetition. He reminds us that our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask. Rather, He gives us a model prayer, where the focus is on honoring God, seeking His Kingdom, accomplishing His will, and forgiving one another.

In 6:16 He assumes we will add to our prayers by the self discipline of fasting. He says “WHen you fast”, not “if”. Fasting is denying our physical desires to focus on our spiritual relationship to God. Jesus once said when the disciples were unable to deliver a boy from demons that sometimes serious prayer should be accompanied by fasting.

Consider this today as you pray, is the one you are praying to a “jesus” in a bottle, or is He the Mighty God of scripture?